It was grade nine science that changed everything for me. It was after a lesson in biology that I came home promptly informing my parents that we were not doing our part to take care of the planet. It was time to step up our “green game” even though back then the trending term consisted of the three-Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. Though we are a family that wastes very little, we still found ways where we could do our part.
Fast forward to five years later when I moved to California after high school and was shocked by the lack of enthusiasm and resources available for recycling. It was back-to-school season and the garbage bins were overflowing with perfectly reusable and recyclable cardboard as students unpacked and moved in. But there was no other option - no blue bins or green bins, just one big dumpster to be carted away to a landfill. The guilt on my conscience was too strong and for the seven years I lived in the U.S., I brought home as much paper as I could to be recycled.
To this day, the sight of food being thrown away, a tap dripping or the lights left on still makes me cringe. My inner voice immediately kicks in calling out that resources are being wasted. And that’s only part of it: we live in a world where not everyone has access to what we take for granted every day including fresh water, food and electricity. It’s as though “out of sight, out of mind” is a good enough reason to waive responsibility and assume that someone else is going to do it for you. It’s easy to pretend that leaving the lights on or letting the water run won’t contribute to the environment’s bottom line when we don’t see the direct results of what we consider small, insignificant actions. But add up all the details and they become one big world wide problem as we slowly destroy the world we are leaving for future generations.
And if that isn’t enough, what if a greener world meant more green in your pocket? All it takes is a shift in your mindset to build habits and make decisions that can have a positive impact on the environment while also saving you money. Turn the lights off, get that leaky faucet fixed and try walking instead of taking an uber.
So, let this Earth Day be the one where you vow to make a difference every day instead of only on April 22nd. If you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at my tips below: the world and your bank account will thank you.
Recycle: take the time and read the guide provided by your city - you’ll be surprised how much can go in the blue bin.
Compost: same as above; when I started composting I couldn’t believe how little garbage I had every week.
Shop: with companies that create sustainable products and clothing.
Take it from home: this goes for your water, coffee and lunch! (In reusable containers of course!)
Borrow or buy second hand: with eBay, kijiji, and social media, sometimes there’s no excuse to buy new.
Sign up for e-billing: ‘nough said.
Walk, bike, transit, rollerblade: take any alternative to driving.
Turn out the lights, turn off the water.
Bags: reuse plastic ones for garbage (or puppy poop bags!) and don’t forget the reusable ones for every kind of shopping!